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News Worthy: The taxman cometh

News Worthy

23 May 2008 - No. 248

The taxman cometh

The hoop-la around the tax issue saw Parliament in urgency immediately after the Budget announcement.

What is on offer by way of tax cuts? The programme consists of a combination of a cut in the bottom rate of income tax and minor threshold changes. The top threshold increases from $60,000 to $70,000 on 1 October.

There is no plan to change our high progressive tax rates.

Labour should have used the good times to lock in real improvements in our economy, to cut tax, to improve economic productivity, to build effective public services.

If it had done that, New Zealanders would not be feeling the pinch so badly now.

Exodus Reaches 29-Year High

The number of people leaving New Zealand over a 12-month period has reached a 29-year high.

The latest migration statistics reveal that more than 79,000 people left New Zealand in the 12 months ended April 2008.

That compares to 71,194 in the year ended April 2007 and translates to 217 people a day or more than 1,500 a week. The number of people leaving has turned into a stampede.

The number of people choosing Australia as their preferred place to live continues to pick up pace as well, with more than 44,000 leaving in the past 12 months - an increase of almost 20% on the 12 months prior.

In Question Time on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said that “migration is positive in net terms”. That, surely, is not the point. Rather that we are losing many of our best people where that could be avoided by different policy settings.

The hottest issue in Parliament

The hottest issue must surely be the Emissions Trading Scheme, which has been rushed by Government through the Select Committee.

There should be six key principles:

• The ETS must strike a balance between New Zealand's environment and economic interests. It should not attempt to make New Zealand a world leader on climate change. We simply can't afford to pay the price for that particular experiment.

• It should be fiscally neutral rather than providing billions of dollars in windfall gains to the government accounts at the expense of businesses and consumers.

• It should be aligned as closely as possible to the planned Australian ETS, with common compliance regimes and tradability.

• The ETS should encourage the use of technologies that improve efficiency and reduce emissions intensity, rather than encourage an exodus of industries and their skilled staff to other countries.

• It needs to recognise the importance of small and medium enterprise to New Zealand and not discriminate against them in allocating emission permits.

• It should have the flexibility to respond to progress in international negotiations rather than setting a rigid schedule. This way, industry obligations can be kept in line with those of foreign competitors.

National will not support the legislation in its present form.

Political Quote of the Week

"A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds." Francis Bacon - English philosopher & statesman 1561-1626

Dr Richard Worth
National Party MP


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